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Skelleggin' Ireland

Ireland reading

While I was in Ireland, I read a ton. I finished four novels in one day.

Here is a partial reading list:
  1. The White Hotel, Dylan Thomas
    Unpredictable, troubling, strange. A fabricated patient of Freud's, including correspondence between him and her. The book begins with a surreal and sensual poem, which the narrative (comprising the second part of the book) follows. The third part of the book is a depressing mind-fuck. Not necessarly bad, just jarring.
  2. A Dream of Kings, Harry Mark Petrakis
    The first in a series concerning a wild greek character. Old world sensibility - refreshing in a modern world. A heartwarming scoundrel.
    "This plan is so brilliant it may require that certain church codes be relaxed." - page 147
  3. A Ghost of the Sun, Harry Mark Petrakis
    The sequel. The lovable character has become an older man, so more time is spent complaining about the world.
    "Tumbling on your ass shows you're still an earthbound clod." - page 99

    "He turned away quickly and let his tassled loafers carry him once more on his Hippocratic rounds." - page 158

    "He felt like a character in one of the spurious family sagas on television." - page 237

  4. Deer Park, Norman Mailer
    A strange thing to read in Ireland - tales of a surreal dumping ground for HollyWeirdos. Examines the fascination of stardom and fame - the book is too long, indulgent, but there's some worthwhile character sketches in there. It's a strange world - distinctly American.
    In an extended epilogue, Mailer spends a good amount of time examining his own work, and its resulting critical and commercial failure. As a writer, it was fascinating. If I wasn't, or if I didn't care for Mr. Mailer, I probably wouldn't have bothered.
  5. Razor's Edge, Somerset Maugham
    This was the book I burned through fastest. Well written exploration of youth and aging, and style and purpose - how people make their beds and lie in them (or not). The action is all about affluent young Americans and Europeans in the early 1900s, so don't expect anything too multicultural. Good for adolescent soul searching, methinks.
  6. Points of Rebellion, William O. Douglas
    Famous supreme court justice pontificates on rebellion, responsibility and duty. A short novelette - this dude's got a good mind.
    Reading this made me want to run for president.
  7. Songlines, Bruce Chatwin
    Study of the culture of the aborigines that never piqued my interest as it did my friends at the Anchor.
  8. Strait is the Gate, Andre Gide
    Unrequieted love, unfulfilled romantic promise, because people buy heavily into religion and morality. Sure, it happens. Sure, its depressing. It isn't a very uplifting read.
  9. Behold the Man, Michael Moorcock
    Another Moorcock exploration of self-sacrificing, timeless-eternal champions. A strange one at that.
    "He had been 17 years old before he had been able to get to sleep with out saying the ritual prayers and even then it had been his impatience to masturbate that had finally broken the habit." - page 12
  10. My Turn to Curtsy, Your Turn to Bow, William Goldman (Golding?)
    Whichever one did not write Lord of the Flies.
    This was quite a book - prototypical coming of age story - baseball playing boy goes to camp, meets bully. Meets off campus hot slut sunning herself. Bully likes her too. The wimp and the bully do the two step and wimp loses his virginity. Meanwhile, the sensitive friend plot - forced to live adolescent torture, some underdeveloped blond stud boy kills himself by crucifixion (I'm not kidding) in the forest.
    It took 52 minutes to read.
  11. Appointment in Samserra, ?
    I don't remember this book. I don't even know the author. The epigram was by Maugham.
  12. Cakes and Ale, Somerset Maugham
    It ain't no Razor's Edge, but it's comforting Maugham, including the comfort of reading about the same character - that quirky European effete Elliot.
    This quote won me over early on:
    "The wise always use a number of read-made phrases, popular adjectives, verbs that you only know the meaning of if you live in the right set, which give a homely sparkle to small talk and avoid the necessity of thought. The Americans, who are the most efficient people on earth, have carried this device to such a height of perfection and have invented so wide a range of pithy and hackneyed phrases that they can carry on an amusing and animated conversation without giving a moment's reflection on what they are saying and so leave their minds free to consider the more important matters of big business and fornication." - page 21
  13. Antic Hay, Aldous Huxley
    The author of Doors of Perception falls short in this long winded exploration of his narcissistic London intellectual social set. So what? I couldn't read more than a third.

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